Greg the Bunny review by Mike Long

It's sort of an odd fact, but if you think about it, puppets have been tied to television since its inception. Puppets like Howdy Doody and Topo Gigio helped to pave the way for future puppets. With Sesame Street, audiences were introduced to a world where puppets and humans lived together in harmony. With The Muppet Show, we got a backstage-look at the lives of puppets, where they interacted with their human guest stars -- but this show never left the Muppet theater. Greg the Bunny is a show which takes a cold, hard look at the world of puppets and the way that humans and puppets co-exist.

Greg the Bunny takes place in a world where humans and puppets live together in semi-harmony. Puppets, or fabricated Americans, as they like to be called, live and work side-by-side (although, many humans are prejudiced against puppets). The show focuses on a children's TV show called "Sweetknuckle Junction". The show features an array of humans and puppets who rarely match their "Sweetknuckle Junction" characters. Warren Demontague (voiced by Dan Milano) is an ape who plays the brilliant "Professor Ape" on the show. However, Warren is actually a frustrated Shakespearian actor who indulges in drugs and alcohol. Junction Jack (Bob Gunton) is the lovable conductor, who has a penchant for guns off the set. Count Blah (voiced by Drew Massey) is known as a vampire on the program, but he's really a down-to-earth widower. Dottie Sunshine (Dina Waters), who comes off as sweet and chipper on "Sweetknuckle Junction", is really a nymphomaniac. The show is overseen by Gil Bender (Eugene Levy), who is being pressured to improve the program by new network exec Allison (Sarah Silverman)

Things change when Gil's son, Jimmy (Seth Green), calls Gil seeking a job for his roommate Greg the Bunny (voiced by Dan Milano). When Greg arrives on the set, Gil is casting for a new character, as the veteran Rochester Rabbit has just been fired for the show. Unaware that Greg is there seeking an office job, Gil auditions the young bunny and gives him the part! Now, the naive Greg is thrown into the crazy world of "Sweetknuckle Junction". Jimmy joins the action as well, becoming a production assistant on the show (which delights Gil, who has been trying to get Jimmy to work for him for years). As Jimmy and Greg explore the world of children's television, we get to see what really goes on behind the scenes.

Greg the Bunny falls somewhere between The Muppet Show and Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles in both the story that it tells and its tone. The show takes a look at the "real-life" world behind a children's TV show and we get to see the strife that happens when the camera is off (ala The Muppet Show). But, these puppets have very real and mature problems, such as self-esteem problems, alcohol abuse, divorce issues, and relationship stress -- but nowhere near as explicit as Meet the Feebles. The serious issues are played for laughs, as the show accents the fact that it's ludicrous for puppets to be experiencing these very human troubles. The humor ranges from the very broad (puppets being hit on the head) to the very clever. One of the funniest aspects of the show concerns puppetism, which is the discrimination of puppets. This idea pops up several times during the series and is at the forefront of two episodes; one in which the crew must have a sensitivity training (which is overseen by a Dr. Phil-like puppet) and one in which Greg drops his "flesh name" in favor of his puppish name. This humor is quite sly and works on several levels.

Yet, having watched all 13 episodes, it's clear why Greg the Bunny didn't click with audiences. For one thing, it's just too weird at times for most people. I can certainly see how middle-America couldn't get used to puppets acting that way. Secondly, the show is inconsistent. (We learn from the extra features that this is mostly due to the fact that the network was constantly re-tooling the show.) The show is certainly funny and the characters are engaging, but the laughs-per-episode quotient is never the same and the reasons why we're laughing are never the same. Sometimes it's because the puppets are working "blue" and sometimes it's due to Seth Green. I truly enjoyed watching all 13 episodes on the DVD, but if I had been watching the show during its run, I wouldn't have been upset if I'd missed a show. Thus, this is one show which works better in bulk. Greg the Bunny is a funny and clever show which will appeal to those who like their humor on the weird side and those who have always wondered what goes on behind the scenes on a puppet show.

Greg the Bunny puts its hand up DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The 2-disc set contains all 13 episodes of the show, two of which ("Sock Like Me" and "Jimmy Drives Gil Crazy") never aired during the show's original run. The show's are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image's are very clear and sharp, showing little grain. The colors look good, although there is some bleeding of the reds at times. The blacks are very deep and true, giving the picture very good contrast. There is some minor artifacting at times, but nothing distracting. The audio on the shows is a Dolby 2.0 Surround track. This provides clear dialogue with no hissing or distortion. There are some moments where the musical cues come from the rear speakers, but the bulk of the audio comes from the front. Overall, the transfer rivals digital broadcast quality.

The 2-disc Greg the Bunny DVD set contains a nice selection of extras. There are audio commentaries for 4 episodes on Disc 1 and 2 episodes on Disc 2. These contain a nice mixture of cast and crew, and are often very entertaining. They are also enlightening, as the speakers don't pull any punches in talking about how the show was treated by the network and how changes were constantly being made. Also, each disc contains deleted & extended scenes, which can be viewed with or without commentary from series creator Dan Milano. (On Disc 1, the scenes are introduced by Greg the Bunny and on Disc 2, the introduction is handled by Warren Demontague.) Disc 1 contains a making-of featurette entitled "The Humans Behind the Fabricated Americans". This 32-minutes segment tells the story of Greg the Bunny's origins in cable access TV and how he moved from there to the Independent Film Channel and then onto Fox. Milano discusses the cast and crew and how the show evolved, mostly due to pressure from Fox. The featurette ends with a hilarious montage of Greg and Seth Green doing ridiculous things together. "Puppet Auditions" (6 minutes) shows the actual auditions from the show's puppeteers. Disc 1 also includes a still gallery which has conceptual artwork of the puppets and sets.

One of the original IFC shorts, entitled "The Greg the Bunny Show: Reality" (7 minutes), can be found on Disc 2, where Greg and his cohorts discuss art vs. reality. "Tardy Delivery" is a 9-minute short film featuring Tardy the Turtle and offers optional commentary from director Drew Massey and puppeteer Victor Yerrids. There is a gallery of behind-the-scenes stills, as well as storyboards for the episode "Jimmy Drives Gil Crazy". The "Publicity Gallery" features an interview with Greg and Seth Green (5 minutes), which looks as if it were taken from a press junket; 6 promo spots for the show; and a series of publicity stills. Finally, we have the "Wrap Reel" (7 minutes), which is a series of behind-the-scenes oddities from the set of the show, some of which are quite amusing.

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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